Is In-N-Out Burger Fast Food? Is It Healthy?

Just to be complicated (and healthier) the Boak Family trip credo has included the mandate “no fast food” during our entire month on the road. When I originally proposed this idea, my wife’s first question to me was a good one: “How does one define fast food?” I thought about it for a minute and concluded that we would abstain from eating at (or getting coffee from) any restaurant that is listed in the QSR Magazine’s Top 40 (Quick Service Restaurants). We would also try to buy healthy groceries along the way.

Her second question almost brought me to my knees. “What about Southern California? Does that mean we don’t get to visit In-N-Out Burger?” Gulp. I hadn’t thought of our favorite burger joint. I tentatively searched online for the QSR Top 40 (from the official rag of the fast-food industry). Scanning the list, I wasn’t surprised that number one was MacDonald's, Starbucks came in at #2, and Subway was at #3. Such was to be expected (though would undoubtedly be an issue for our two small children). Farther down the list were the usuals: Dunkin Donuts, Qdoba, Wendys, etc. To my great relief, In-N-Out was at #42. Whew!

After all, would we really drive through Southern California and NOT hit an In-N-Out? Such was hard to imagine.

The I-405 is always “fun” on a Saturday afternoon; heading to San Diego.

So it was with relish that after a long day in LA visiting friends, we pulled into the Dana Point In-N-Out with great expectations. We hadn’t had their delicious burgers or fries in years. The shakes are legendary. We even like that they add cryptic Bible citations on some of their cups and wrappers (like John 3:16). Mostly, we like that going into In-N-Out is like stepping back in time, back to the days when American fast-food was made from fresh ingredients, served with cheer, and simple. Glory days kind of stuff.

And we weren’t disappointed. The burgers had caramelized edges, the buns were perfectly toasted, the fries were authentically made from fresh potatoes. The shake was, well, incredible. And just about everyone there (staff and customers) seemed to be having a Saturday night good time.

In-N-Out; simple, sublime, totally American.

Is In-N-Out healthy? Is it fast food? I know this much: eating there didn’t break our mandate and we all came away feeling better for stopping in.

To learn more about our thirty day adventure across America, check out our other publications WHERE DO WE FIT IN? and 30 CUPS ACROSS.

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